DENVER, CO — The House today passed SB21-001 on Third Reading and final passage by a vote of 47-16.
“To build back stronger, we have to do what we can to keep the small businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic from falling further and further behind,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. “Colorado for All means every Coloradan has equal access to the relief and financial support they need for their distressed business, but that hasn’t been the case. This bill is aimed at achieving that goal by allocating funds to disproportionately impacted businesses, particularly those owned by people who have faced historic inequalities and lack access to capital or financial resources. This bill helps remedy some discriminatory systems and gives these businesses a chance to weather the economic consequences of this pandemic.”
SB21-001,sponsored by Representatives Leslie Herod, D-Denver, and Shane Sandridge, R-El Paso County, would make minor tweaks to the COVID-19 small and minority business relief program that was established during last year’s special session. The legislation will help small businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, especially minority owned businesses, receive timely relief through the program, which is being challenged in a lawsuit that is preventing release of the funds.
Minority-owned businesses have not only been disproportionately impacted by the current pandemic, they have faced historic discrimination and barriers to success. For minority-owned businesses, accumulating capital, purchasing property, and starting a business have always been more difficult due to the long-lasting impacts of discriminatory systems that are only exacerbated by the pandemic. These disparities are the result of generations of discrimination through laws and practices that restrict employment and housing opportunities, and limit access to loans and banking, practices which continue today.
A 2020 report from the Federal Reserve Banks of Kansas City and Atlanta found that people of color face persistent and structural barriers to acquiring capital, knowledge, and market access to start and grow their business. It found minority-owned small businesses have higher loan denials and interest rates and lower profit margins than their counterparts. Research from the Brookings Institution shows that the PPP program initially relied on traditional banks and disfavored Black and Latinx-owned businesses, blocking access to the program for many. Finally, the US Securities and Exchange Commission concluded that COVID-19 is more likely to negatively impact minority-owned businesses because they are more likely to be in industries and sectors vulnerable to the pandemic, with employees at Latinx and Black-owned businesses far less likely to be able to work from home compared with white-owned businesses.